Published September 19, 2017

Shelia Shares

Garden Spot was promoting a three day concert event in Lancaster. We were there to interview the artists that you hear on The Gospel Greats program. It was in our home area and we were blessed to have such top artists performing and available to chat.

Paul was waiting to do his last interview and the promoter and staff were busy with attendees, selling tickets and helping guests before the evening performance. So, I went to the area where food was available to the stage/audio/lighting crew and artists to see if I could help out. I knew it was supper time, so I set out the array of prepared sandwiches, fruit, salad and dessert. It was a pretty simple task.

On the program that evening was Larry Gatlin. Now, I am very familiar with the name, of course. I know he is a legend in country music. But, I had never met the man in person. How would this "star" act off stage?

That first impression is so important.

I remember meeting a Christian lady 40 years ago. She was speaking at a college and because she needed help, I was sent. I was young and didn't have a depth of experience. I was a big fan and had heard her tremendous testimony. However, I didn't do something as well as she wanted and she tore me down with cynical and demeaning remarks. Although hers is a name most churched people would recognize even today, I still remember how she treated me. I believe her testimony is true and hope she was simply having a terrible day when she met me.

On the other hand, when Paul and I and our family met the late radio icon Paul Harvey at his offices in Chicago some years ago, he took time for us. He sat and spoke with us. He was gracious to us, speaking directly and kindly to each of our sons. He was always warm on the radio, but my impression of him was enhanced by the way his character and kindness showed through in person.

Back to our recent local concert... Our interview room was close to Larry Gatlin's dressing room. As he came up the stairs to his room, I had invited him down to the backstage "green room" for some food. He said a kind and simple "thank you."

When he came into the food area, I smiled and invited him to help himself, just as I had greeted everyone who came in. He held out his hand and introduced himself to me. I introduced myself and shook hands. My name meant nothing to him. I'm sure I was simply "the lady in charge of the artists' food."

As he ate, every time he spoke to me, he called me "Shelia." He took time to remember my name. He was inclusive to everyone in the room, whether it was the crew or other artists.

Without anyone questioning him, he spoke about his church. It's a church where the preacher preaches the Bible. He talked about the little lady in the choir who raises her hands and shouts and shows Jesus all over. He looks forward to seeing her each Sunday.

To say I was impressed is an understatement. He is a legend but presented himself so humbly. When I asked to get a picture with him, there was no hesitation. "Come on, Shelia. Let's do it."

How do we present ourselves? Are we too big to have time for those who aren't helping us climb the ladder? How do we interact with the "little" people? Are we too important to consider others? First impressions are important, but so are second impressions. Let's be sure we actually care about others, so our words are gracious and kind and loving.

- Shelia

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